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How Chinese villagers fake scenes for desperate tourists for photographs of a rural paradise

China is known for its shameless production of counterfeit goods, for example, images of ‘Rolexe’ watches and ‘WiWi consoles’ have emerged, but it turns out that counterfeiting even extends to the country’s rural image.

It has recently been revealed that locals in one particular pastoral county, Xiapu in Fujian Province, are embellishing facets of their genuinely rural life so that tourists leave with perfect photo albums of their trip.

Locals in the region present picturesque scenes for hordes of tourists, even using special effects and accessories to paint a romantic picture of life there.

Melinda Chan visited Xiapu, which has a coastline on the East China Sea, and photographed swarms of tourists catching fishermen (above).  Speaking to MailOnline Travel, he said: 'Some of the fishermen were directed and posed.  Although some were actually doing their own work. '

Melinda chan visited Xiapu, which has a coastline on the East China Sea, and photographed swarms of tourists catching fishermen (above). Speaking to MailOnline Travel, he said: ‘Some of the fishermen were directed and posed. Although some were actually doing their own work. ‘

In some cases, depending on The New York Times tourists hand out cash in exchange for villagers turned into models who pose on demand, with instructions delivered via walkie-talkie. In some scenic locations, there are billboards to show tourists how to compose the perfect snapshot.

Melinda chan visited Xiapu, which has a coastline on the East China Sea, and photographed swarms of tourists catching fishermen.

Speaking to MailOnline Travel, he said: ‘Some of the fishermen were directed and posed. Although some were actually doing their own work. ‘

Xiapu County is home to the largest salt marsh in the country, covering more than 260 square miles.

Xiapu County is home to the largest salt marsh in the country, covering more than 260 square miles.

Xiapu County is home to the largest salt marsh in the country, covering more than 260 square miles.

Photographer Nicolas Monnot, who photographed the Xiapu region in November last year, said a guide took him to a photoshoot on a beach.

He wrote on Flickr: “This area is famous in China for its fishing activities, with many nets in the sea that made the place very iconic.

“My guide took me to attend a sunrise and I found myself in the middle of a large group of Chinese photographers taking millions of photos of six local fishermen staging their activities.”

Describing another striking scenic photograph he took during his time in Xiapu, Monnot added that the villagers’ real life is “actually a long way from being as glamorous as this photo suggests.”

Tourists in Xiapu County sometimes hand out cash in exchange for model-turned villagers who pose on demand, with instructions delivered via walkie-talkie.

Tourists in Xiapu County sometimes hand out cash in exchange for model-turned villagers who pose on demand, with instructions delivered via walkie-talkie.

Tourists in Xiapu County sometimes hand out cash in exchange for model-turned villagers who pose on demand, with instructions delivered via walkie-talkie.

China is known for its production of counterfeit products, such as a game console, called a WiWi, that masquerades as a fake Wii.

China is known for its production of counterfeit products, such as a game console, called a WiWi, that masquerades as a fake Wii.

Images have emerged of 'Rolexe watches', a fake alternative to the super luxurious Rolex

Images have emerged of 'Rolexe watches', a fake alternative to the super luxurious Rolex

China is known for its production of counterfeit products, such as a game console, called a WiWi, that masquerades as a fake Wii. China also makes Rolexe watches

Photographer Alex Berger has also shared an image of a scene staged in Xiapu, a beautifully lit photograph of a woman scrutinizing fishing nets.

It revealed that the setup was “carefully constructed.”

Her Flickr caption for the image reads: “ While photos like this are often masquerading as organic and natural, the reality is that these, including this particular series, are an organized / commissioned portrait shoot.

I find it unpleasant when many photographers try to pass off these artificial moments as authentic

“It takes place in a true fishing village, but it is a carefully constructed scene in an old warehouse with wonderful natural light. It is also the reason why the network is as clean and perfectly arranged as a sea of ​​water.

A popular rural scene in the interior is that of farmers in traditional hats moving buffalo through a misty forest. But the buffalo has not been used for agriculture for years and the ‘mist’ is created for the happy tourists by the fan of the burning straw.

According to The New York Times, the driving force behind the false scenes is a combination of government fostering rural tourism and nostalgia for a fading way of life.

Berger’s problem with fake images is that they end up in the real world under misleading pretenses.

He added: ‘I personally don’t think so. [the construction] detracts from the photo. But I find it unpleasant when many photographers try to pass off these artificial moments as authentic. ”

While this fascinating phenomenon is one of the reasons to visit Xiapu County, it has another intriguing claim to fame. It is home to the largest salt marsh in the country, spanning more than 260 square miles.

To visit Xiapu, first travel to the nearby cities of Fuzhou, Xiamen, or Wenzhou, and then transfer by train to Xiapu Train Station.

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